Healthy Lunchboxes on a Budget

We know how the weeks coming up to Christmas can be expensive – presents to be bought, parties to go to, days out during Christmas! They all add up! By reducing your spending on lunches you can save a lot of money!

Our friend Jenny Tschiesche, founder of Lunchbox Doctor has shared with us some fantastic tips to save money and have a healthy lunch on a budget! Healthy food and more money in your pocket!

A healthy lunchbox for 70pence or less? Yes it can be done.

The important considerations when putting together a healthy lunchbox are the inclusion of 6 nutritional components:

  1. Carbohydrates: includes pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, oats
  2. Proteins:  includes fish, eggs, chicken, turkey, ham, beef, sausages, beans, chickpeas, lentils, cheese, yogurt as well as seeds
  3. Calcium: These include seeds, in particular sesame seeds, nuts and dark green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli as well as dairy foods such as yogurt, cheese and milk
  4. Fruit: includes fresh, dried, tinned or frozen as well as fruit juice
  5. Vegetable: includes salad vegetables such as carrots, sweetcorn, crispy lettuce leaves, cucumber and pepper sticks as well as cooked vegetables in soups and pasta salads
  6. Drink: includes water, milk, fruit juice and smoothies


So you can start planning with a simple table drawn up like the one at the end of this article then fill it in in accordance with your budget and your child’s preferences. Here are some ideas and things you might want to consider:

To make budget sandwiches:

  • Buy bread but freeze it in portions of four slices (for 2 kids), 6 slices (for 3) and so on…
  • Buy a large chunk of value cheddar and slice it finely using a cheese slice not a knife or grate it.
  • Buy a gammon joint for your Sunday Roast and finely slice the leftovers. This will be way cheaper than buying sliced ham.
  • Get a tin of chickpeas and whizz it up with some lemon juice, water, garlic, cumin and some salt to make a cheap hummus

For cheap alternatives to crisps:

  • Make popcorn from kernels and add some spices (cinnamon, cumin) and/or some sweetness (honey) and some saltiness (salt or soy sauce)
  • Roast seeds (sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds) in a little oil and soy sauce
  • Take lower sugar cereals like cornflakes or puffed rice in small plastic tubs with lids

Trail mix jars

A better way of providing cakes/sweets is to avoid the high sugar cereal bars, chocolate bars, cakes and muffins that are targeted at lunchbox makers. Instead try:

  • Crispbreads with jam or honey on.
  • Plain biscuits which are better value and have fewer additives e.g. shortbread, Rich Tea and oat-based biscuits
  • A home-made budget recipe flapjack

Flapjack - basic


  • Kids often enjoy something that they get to peel themselves. Tangerines or bananas are a great and inexpensive choice if you choose the value ranges.
  • Fruit on offer can be bought and divided up. A £1 pineapple can be sliced into rings or cubes and last a whole week.
  • Tinned fruit (in fruit juice) can be provided on its own or with a spoonful or two of ‘value’ natural yogurt.


  • Carrots are one of the cheapest vegetables and yet ubiquitously enjoyed. Peel and slice or chop into batons. You can even serve them grated in a sandwich to bulk out the grated cheese or hummus filling.
  • Watch out for offers on other salad vegetables that kids enjoy such as crisp peppers, cucumber, cherry tomatoes or sugar snaps.
  • Root vegetables are cheap in winter and make great soups that can be taken to school in a thermos flask. Bulk out with cheap but filling and protein-rich lentils.

Lentils for soup

When providing a drink for the lunchbox:

  • Ideally a reusable water bottle with your child’s name on and filled with tap water would be used daily. This will save you lots of money. Children don’t need expensive smoothies and juices especially if they have fresh or dried fruit in their lunchbox already.
  • If you do go for cartons be aware that ‘fruit juice’ is better than ‘fruit juice drink’ which may have a lot of added sugars.

Here’s an idea for a menu:

Lunchbox Doctor


Thanks to Jenny and her amazing healthy and budget ideas! For more great ideas for lunches you can visit the Lunchbox Doctor Website

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